A couple of weeks, our teenage golf star, Kelly, and I drove to Kennewick, WA for a practice round before the Washington State High School Golf Tournament (she ended up coming in 3rd after leading the first round).
We stayed one night at the Hilton Garden Inn Tri-Cities/Kennewick. And, as much as you know I hate hotels, they did a very good job. The staff was attentive and pleasant. Our room was very nice.
I received a little surprise when checking in. On the counter was a sign saying, "Welcome to our Guest Of The Day, Steve Miller." The check-in person said there was a surprise waiting in my room. Kelly and I found a balloon with jelly beans, a towel shaped liked a swan, a voucher for one free breakfast, and the following certificate:
Unexpected surprise, right? Did it make me smile? Yes, of course. And I give them big thumbs up for the effort.
But does this hotel now deserve a 10? You see, on the desk was a letter from the hotel manager. It wasn't just to the Guest of the Day. I think it was in every room. Besides welcoming us, the manager also stated that after our stay we could expect to receive an online survey from Hilton. He went on to say that, if for any reason, we could not give them a 10 to please contact him and he will fix it.
How would you feel about this? Would you feel that the manager was gaming the system, much like automobile service departments do? Should I give them a 10 because they did a good job, which they did? Should I give them a 10 because I was Guest-of-the-Day?
Personally, giving a 10 to any supplier is difficult for me. A 10 to me is a giant WOW! WOW, they went above and beyond anything I could have expected! WOW, they were surprisingly amazing! WOW, they actually caught me off guard in some magical, highly personal way!
I am very interested in your thoughts, so please respond below in the Comment section. Personally, I'd be happy to give them a 9, which is pretty darn good in my book, but not a 10. For a hotel that would get a 10 from me, read my past post, Mosquitos & Butterflies.
There’s a whole argument for not doing a number scale on satisfaction surveys just for the reason you stated – there are people who never give 10s. Imagine the follow up with a customer for a number scale – why did you give us a 9? Because I don’t give out 10s. They could ask – how likely are you to recommend us?
Looking forward to your conference in a couple of weeks!
The same thing happened to my wife and I, a few weeks ago, when we were buying a new Toyota Forerunner. Sadly, this “strategy” to get great reviews is becoming quite “commonplace”, it would seem.
It sounds like they did a great job, and did a few extra “niceties” that aren’t usually done. But, that being said, it hurts their credibility as far as their doing these things for YOU, or the “corporate shirts” they’re REALLY trying to impress. It’s painfully obvious, it’s not for you.
No “10” from me just because they asked for it. When are they going to realize that this is not making them look good when they “expose” the REAL reason they’re doing these things? Bad move, in my opinion.
Steve, I’d give them a 10 for being creative but not for superlative service. The WOW factor just isn’t there. You were paying for hospitality and you got hospitality. It’s almost as if you have to rate them at 10 just because they were kind enough to take your money.
The only element for which they deserve a 10 is their understanding that they should try to make their guests feel welcome, special, and appreciated. This is certainly not a bad thing and they are miles ahead of companies that haven’t begun that journey.
In the way I’m interpreting your experience, the gestures lack authenticity. In time this customer satisfaction mission may become part of the fabric of who they are but for now it feels more like a dog waiting for a treat immediately after the trick.
I agree, it is almost irritating when they ask for your “vote”. It is the special, out side the box thoughts that should get the 10, and they should do them for everyone not just Kelly’s Dad.
Interesting question, Steve.
My Infiniti dealership does this, and it has always bothered me. On one hand, they usually do a good job, so I don’t want them being negatively judged by the corporate “shirts,” but on the other hand, by ASKING for a 10 up front, it really does cheapen the whole experience.
If they REALLY want to know what you think, maybe they should forgo the number system altogether and spend a little more money to do a more open-ended interview/survey.
I like what Mr. Long said…”No ’10’ from me just because they asked for it. When are they going to realize that this is not making them look good when they “expose” the REAL reason they’re doing these things? Bad move, in my opinion.” From now on, THAT’s going to be my response to this type of post-service survey. Watch out, Infiniti!!
Thanks for the interesting blog!
Steve, did you check to see if you were the ONLY “Guest of the day”? The above kudos you discribed may have been for each and every guest. If the hotel was doing this for every guest then a 10 would not be out of the question. If it was for one guest then I am not sure a 10 would do it for me.
In my opinion, this is not a 10 experience. I have seen the same letter in a Hilton hotel room in Atlanta. I suspect it could be chain-wide? If I were you, I would be suspicious that they were trying to use me to “get the word out” based on my career in marketing. The hotel in your past post, Mosquitos & Butterflies, would certainly make me consider a 10.
“Ask and you shall receive” I have no problem with the request for a 10, because it is followed up with – if you can’t call me and I’ll fix it.
As you consider the score it causes you to think about the grade and look for the positives and negatives. If the manager has fixed negatives from prior guests, you will be blown away by positives.
To often we get a survey a couple of weeks after we stay at the hotel and it is a vast number of questions and bad answer choices. What really matters is the here and now and fixing the faults. If you can’t give it a 10 call the manager.
The Ultimate Question puts the 1-10 grading into perspective as it pertains to loyalty. While one may not give the hotel a 10, I bet it gets a lot of 9’s and no one talks badly about a place they give a 9.
The great thing is that the internet has brought transparency to marketing toay. It’s no longer enough to “say” you do something. Companies have to be “doing.”
The “give me a 10” idea is just a natural response and feeble attempt to skew the results by companies that are working spreadsheets and hoping that it’s still good enough to just “say” they do something.
As consumers, we all know when a company has a product or service that’s worth recommending. The companies that are “doing” will be the ones we like to tell our friends about. The companies that are trying to make us think that they’re doing won’t get recommended. In fact, they’ll get called out on their actions on review boards like this one.
Is the mentality here “if you give them a 10 they will stop trying to be the best they can be?” A 9 to me is a nice clean room, with a comfortable bed, fluffy towels, no noises, all the “stuff” is good quality and they work (TV, sink, shower, hairdryer, iron, lights, etc.). A 10 means they have made a special effort with some added amenities to make you feel welcome and say “we appreciate that you chose us”. That said, the added amenities without the other “stuff” doesn’t warrant a 10.
I think asking for a 10 is not good customer service. I love getting that really great customer service. I also love to give good customer service… but that truly unique, exceeding customer service is hard to do. If you try too hard you might miss the small opportunities (like toothpaste) and go overboard… like making everyone the “guest for the day.” I really applaud the effort and desire, but I think they are missing the mark.
A blog I just recently read and enjoyed on exceptional customer service at a hotel was here:
Anyway – I agree… I’d give a 9 too.
I look at this way. You will get a 10 from me when you exceed all expectations. It is like receiving an “A” in school. I remember receiving a “A” from a collage professor who had sat on my Dad’s PHd oral board. By receiving that “A” I had exceed all expectations.
So in closing I provide surveys with a lot of 7, 8 & 9’s, but rarely will I give a 10.
I had a similar thing happen with a book provider that I got a used book from through Amazon.com. In the survey I was sent by amazon, I noted that the book did not fit the descripton and that it was not in the condition noted online. The provider is offering me a refund and requesting that I change my response so that they can keep a 99% positive feedback rating from past customers. Seems to me they should have done the right thing before I called them on it instead of after. They are so nice now that I almost felt guilty for exposing their false representation of the book they sold me. To me a 10 is where they did over and above what was ever expected at a time when no one was checking or looking!
I’m with you, Steve. 9 is a great score, and it would need to be over the top to deserve a 10. 10 implies it couldn’t have been better, and I suspect your experience COULD have been better!
Enlightened Leadership Solutions
I totally agree with you! A customer should never be asked to “give a 10”. Asked to complete the survey, sure – but what score to give, never.
Several years ago we changed our surveys from a number rating system to how impactful was “X”; with ratings of didn’t make an impact, made minimal impact, neutral, made significant impact, made maximum impact – with a general comments box as a final question where they can give any specific feedback – positive or negative. For us, this seems to be working much better. Those filling out the surveys are our internal customers, but still – there opinion needs to count, and it does.
I agree that I also find it very difficult to give a 10 on anything unless I was over-the-top “wowed”. And it seems to me that unless the property explicitly plans to “wow” every guest, they shouldn’t ask for a 10. However, I suspect some customer service guru suggested to these folks (and it’s not completely wrong) that most people are not likely to complain, but instead just go home with the bad experience. In a sense, this letter is inviting people to complain while there is still a chance to rescue the experience.
If you reported this accurately what the hotel manager was asking for was areas in which they could improve. I’m not sure he was asking for a 10. If he was , what’s wrong with that. I’ve seen people on surveys who said, “It was the best experience I’ve ever had” and then rate it an 8. Gee … what would have had to happen to get a 10?? People who object to giving 10s sometimes say more about themselves than the entity they’re rating. I like those folks who cross out the 10 on the written surveys and put in an 11 or even a 12. You have to be better than good to get those ratings.
OK, gang, I’m not sure how I’m supposed to respond to Kit Grant’s comment.
“If you reported this accurately.” “I’m not sure he was asking for a 10.” “People who object to giving 10s sometimes say more about themselves than the entity they’re rating.”
I agree with many of these comments…Even when I get my car serviced, they say, “you’ll be getting a follow-up survey about the service you received today. Is there any reason you wouldn’t give us a 10?”
Well, yes, the fact that you asked me, for one!
It’s all too obvious that they’re gaming the system.
management probably thinks.
Ultimately, they are making SOME effort to solicit what their quests think, and management is making some effort to ensure his guests that “[He] will fix it.”. If they truly do fix it – especially during your stay – that counts for good .. if they fix it AND THEN SOME, then that’s working towards that ’10’.
Here’s a Good Story with a ’10’:
My wife and I celebrated our 10th Anniversary at what we understood to be a “luxury” hotel, one of The Gaylord properties. Check-in was crowded, but staff was pleasant. The room was OK – no Wow factor at all – even after my specific request when I made the reservations – but was very dusty and the beds were worse than worse … unbearable. I called staff at 1AM, and they said they couldn’t do anything. They had a Presidential Suite, but that would cost me an additional $500/night (even though it was empty). I didn’t push it.
The next morning, we go down to the counter, and end up speaking with Front Desk Manager. We very briefly explained the story, and he promised to remedy the matter. I was hopeful, but not expecting much.
In the end, he upgraded us to “a suite”. We picked up our new keys, got our luggage, went over to the new room, opened the door and walked into what was one of their best Presidential Suites! At NO extra charge! Above that, they gave us a $75 credit off our bill for the first night’s inconvenience.
Now, although our fist night sucked, that second day/night made our weekend, and made night 1 worth the hassle. They got a 10 from me, and there was no solicitation or survey, only a general letter from the General Manager that had included one line that said, “If you need anything during your stay with us, just let us know, and consider it done!” And it was!
Good Morning Steve,
Thank you for bringing all of this great feedback to our attention. Yes, we are the hotel in question of deserving a “10”. Please be assured that our front desk selects the “Guest of the Day” at random, we had no plans of our efforts reaching a blog. I’m happy to hear that at the very least, our efforts did bring a smile to your face. I think you might even laugh if you could see the housekeepers learning to fold the towel animals! As for the note from our General Manager, we have taken what you and the others said to heart and are changing our policies. The last thing our staff wants is for our guest’s to feel that we only administer this program to solicit a good score. However, we can see where combining the note from our General Manager along with the “Guest of the Day” goodies appears to be doing just that.
As the blog postings have highlighted, each of us have a unique internal “satisfaction meter”. We have differing frames of reference for what constitutes a “10” or an “A+” or a “WOW”. So too do people have individual definitions for what a “problem” or an “issue” may look like. We believe a good hotel is in the business of deciphering this private scale of each guest and catering to it time and again. The letter from the General Manager is a preemptive attempt to capture that information while a guest is “in-house” and we are still able to “make-it-right” according to their individual needs. We apologize that this concern came across as insincere.
Unfortunately, the inherently personal and often times intangible experience of hospitality is difficult to convert to the cold hard data most surveys attempt to collect. So, as my property continues to refine how best to ensure an exceptional personal experience, I will challenge everyone to follow Timothy Ruiz’s lead and by all means notify hotel staff of any and all reasons they are not meeting your expectations. Give the property a fair shot at remedying the situation during your stay and you could be pleasantly surprised at how a negative can become a positive…or perhaps even for the toughest grader out there…dare I say, a “10”?
Holly Siler, Director of Sales